Posts Tagged ‘mike gordon

13
Dec
11

Mike Gordon show review: 12/11/11, Albany NY

Mike tunes up at the Egg

Isn’t it great when things turn out even more awesome than you ever expected? This is exactly what happened at the Egg in Albany on Sunday night, as Mike Gordon (best known as being the bass player for Phish) and his band blew the doors off the place with three hours of incredibly diverse music, long, intense jamming, and just plain fun. The theater was about 75% full of Phish heads (it might have been more had the show been on a Friday or Saturday), and the small venue provided an intimate setting for the final show of the band’s brief fall tour.

Gordon and guitarist Scott Murawski, Brooklyn drummer Todd Isler, keyboard player Tom Cleary, and percussionist Craig Myers started things off with Horizon Line, which turned into a long jam segment that featured a lot of tempo changes, dueling solos between Murawski and Cleary, and most unexpectedly, moments of dark, progressive sounds that blew me away. From what I’ve heard of Gordon’s solo work, it’s fairly mellow with a slant toward country/bluegrass, jazz and rock. This show explored vast soundscapes of varying textures and themes – it was far more than I ever expected. The Phish song Only a Dream followed, and the band once again jammed out the middle section, taking the song to new heights and arrangements that made the studio version of the song seem even more insignificant. I’m Deranged, The Way it Goes, Just a Rose, Voices, and River Niger kept the first set rolling, with most of the songs continuing the jamming and overall magic; some of the jams did lose momentum and probably went on a little longer than necessary, but that was far from the norm. The band then did a great version of Marvin Gaye’s Baby Don’t You Do It, keeping the soul of the original in tact but giving it a more intense, country rock feel, with Cleary passionately hammering out the vocals. Then they segued back into Horizon Line to bookend the set, which clocked in at about 90 minutes.

Scott Murawski and Tom Isler

After a brief intermission, the crowd roared back to life with the opening notes of Funky Bitch, a Son Seals song that Phish has played hundreds of times. Gordon’s band’s version was fairly close to Phish’s version, but different just enough that it didn’t feel like we were watching a Phish cover band. The Phishiness continued with Gordon’s tune Sugar Shack (from Phish’s Joy album), with Murawski easily handling the guitar melodies and jamming it out a bit. Then they played a cover that I never could have predicted (although if I knew Mike Gordon’s solo history better I might not have been as surprised) – Hand in My Pocket by Alanis Morissette. I’ve never been a big fan of Alanis, but I’ve never really disliked her either, and Hand in My Pocket is actually one of her songs that I do enjoy. The band rocked the hell out of it, with Murawski belting out the vocals with great passion and intensity. Dig Further Down, Crumblin’ Bones, Skin It Back, and Hap Nappy continued the terrific set, with all band members firing on all cylinders as the jams kept going. Gordon announced that the final song was dedicated to a longtime friend in the audience, a song they played together in high school – the Who’s Don’t Get Fooled Again. It was a good version, a fun way to end the set.

The Dude of Life!!!

For die-hard Phish fans, the encore was by far the highlight of the night. An additional microphone was brought to the stage, leading everyone to assume a guest vocalist would be joining the band. It turned out to be none other than Steve Pollack, a.k.a the Dude of Life. Pollack has been collaborating with Phish from the very beginning, and on Sunday he graced us with his presence for a song he wrote with Phish, Suzy Greenberg – the crowd was bouncing off the ceiling.

The whole show was a wonderful surprise for me. I expected a more laid back, moody and offbeat show, much like Gordon’s solo albums. But the jams went to crazy places I never imagined, and Murawski, who many know from the band Max Creek, is in fact a guitar god. He would go from dark riffs to lightning-fast solos with the utmost precision and clarity; his grooves were so impressive and crucial to the overall sound of the band. He was a genuine joy to hear – I’ll have to check out Max Creek now. I’m looking forward to seeing Phish in the near future, but when Gordon brings his act to town again, you can bet I’ll be there too.

Mike Gordon at the Egg gets 4.5 out of 5 stars!

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02
Dec
11

Free Phish Friday!

HiFi recently received an update on the companies iPhone that Phish will broadcast highlights of the legendary 1997 Hampston/Winston-Salem shows Thursday (yesterday), Friday, and Saturday at 2:00 via the LivePhish.com website radio.  There is no need to sign up; it simply requires a click of your mouse on the Listen link and viola!

I listen to the LivePhish.com radio station on a very regular basis and have found it easy to use and often updated with fresh live material.  This special stream they are offering at 2:00 should be a treat, check it out if you can!

06
Jul
11

Live Bait Vol. 5 – Free Phish Download

Life sometime just throws you out some random sprinkles of joy  that make you smile, today is one of those days!

Live Bait Vol. 5 has been released to masses from  LivePhish.com this morning!

I’ve been very impressed with the quality and quantity of material they make available for free every once an awhile; this band clearly knows how to keep their fan base happy on a consistent basis. 

Check out LivePhish.com today and download your newest copy of this incredible live series of free shows and let us know what you think!

21
Jun
11

Leo Kottke and Mike Gordon – Perfect Summer Sounds

In earlier posts I have raved and enlightened listeners to a great resource for legit free concert downloads of some of the greatest jam bands of the past few decades; Nugs.net.

One concert that I consider a highlight of what’s available is the Leo Kottke & Mike Gordon concert at the 2003 Bonnaroo Music Festival.  There are times when musicians from different backgrounds just seem to meld together and make the perfect combination, these guys are a perfect example.

Check it out and tell us what you think.

21
May
11

Live Bait Vol. 4 – free Phish download!

Released today on Livephish.com you can pick yourself up the newest Live Bait volume of hand picked live material direct from the source.  You will need to set up a free account in order to be eligible.

Check it out by going to Livephish.com

08
Mar
11

Mike Gordon – Free Download @ Livephish.com

Just recently announced on LivePhish.com you can download an entire Mike Gordon solo show recorded last year during his 2010 tour.  The sound quality is top rate and the music is top notch.  You can download the entire show for free once you have set up a username and password (takes about 30 seconds).

The only other Mike Gordon concert I have is a gig he did with the legendary guitarist Leo Kottke; you can get that show free at Nugs.net (click the Free Stash link on the top right side of the Nugs homepage).

Now only if they would release those Trey recent shows for free with or without a ticket stub, c’mon LivePhish hook us up!!!!!!

Click here to download the show and let us know what you think, eh?

22
Jun
10

The SPAC-tacular Phish

Fresh off their triumphant reunion tour in 2009, Phish is keeping things rolling with a summer tour covering much of the east coast, southeast and Midwest areas of the country, plus a stop in Colorado and Berkeley, CA.  This past weekend, the jam band kings played two shows at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC), a long-time favorite venue for the band.  Rather than doing a full song-by-song review like I did for their Albany shows last fall, I thought I’d just talk about some of the highlights and things that made these shows unique (every Phish show is unique, but some things are more unique than others, if that makes any sense). 

Phish has a song called “Tweezer,” a long, jammed-out tune with minimal lyrics.  They also have a song called “Tweezer Reprise,” which uses the same chords as “Tweezer” but has a much faster, hard rock tempo, and is a short song as well.  Phish tradition has been that when they play “Tweezer” at a show, they will at some point play “Tweezer Reprise.”  Sometimes it’s at the same show, sometimes they will wait and play it at a later show.  On June 15th they played “Tweezer” but did not play the “Reprise.”  In fact, it was two shows later that they played another “Tweezer,” so in the Phish process of things, they now had to play two “Reprises,” which they did on June 18th back-to-back, a Phish first.  I say all this because in an unprecedented Phish occurrence, they opened the show at SPAC on Saturday with “Tweezer Reprise,” making it the third time in a row, much to the amusement of the fans.  The rest of the set was incredibly solid with some great highlights like “Fluffhead,” the Mustangs’ “Ya Mar,” and the high-energy “Suzy Greenberg” which was punctuated by a spectacular glowstick display from the crowd on the SPAC lawn.

The second set featured some extended improvisational jamming after the Velvet Underground’s “Rock and Roll,” and we were introduced to a new song called “Halfway to the Moon.”  This was a great new tune – dark and textured, with some good jamming potential.  It’s a perfect example of why people follow Phish from show to show – you never know what songs you’ll hear, especially when it comes to new material.  They closed the set with another new song, “Show of Life.”  This is a historic moment for die-hard Phish fans, because “Show of Life” is the first song in over 15 years played by Phish and written by Steve Pollak, better known in Phish lore as the Dude of Life.  Pollak and the band go way back together – he wrote the lyrics for a few Phish classics and has released a couple of albums.  “Show of Life” has a grandiose quality to it without being pretentious – it’s a good tune.  The encore for this show was pretty standard until Phish decided to play “Tweezer Reprise” one last time, making it four times in two shows.  Phish is anything but dull.

While Saturday’s show was good with some great moments, Sunday’s show will go down as one of the greats in recent Phish history.  Things got off to a great start with “Brother,” the lyrics of which are merely “Whoa, whoa, whoa! Someone’s definitely jumping in the tub with your brother!”  It’s set to a funky beat, and with Sunday being Father’s Day, Phish did what they did last year on the same day when they played “Brother” – a giant ovular tub was brought on stage and gradually a bunch of kids came out and squashed themselves into the tub as the band played on.  When the song ended, guitarist Trey Anastasio introduced the kids – they are all the band member’s kids – and shouted “Happy Father’s Day!”  It was a very cute moment – the littlest kids had giant headphones to protect their ears.  From there things just kept getting better – Phish sounded tight and precise.  For “Gotta Jibboo” they brought Tony Markellis on stage to play bass guitar.  Tony plays bass for Trey’s solo band and co-wrote the song for Phish 10 years ago.  Mike Gordon, Phish’s usual bass player, switched to guitar for the song, but the two-guitar sound didn’t really add much to the song.  The end of the set featured keyboardist Page McConnell stepping out to center stage for the lounge tune “Lawn Boy,” and then they closed with a scorching “Run Like an Antelope,” with Trey’s fingers flying so fast I thought they’d fall off.

The second set was full of fantastic jamming and high-energy tunes, highlighted by the Who’s “Drowned,” which featured some great exploratory jamming.  The songs flowed seamlessly into one another, with little “down time.”  The set ended with the ultra-funky “Also Sprach Zarathustra” (the theme from the movie 2001) and the classic “You Enjoy Myself,” which featured a fantastic vocals-only jam at the end.  The encore was the Edgar Winter Group’s instrumental classic “Frankenstein,” which featured McConnell playing a “keytar” at center stage.

All told, they sounded terrific.  While their penchant for taking risks with songs and doing a lot of extended jamming has waned in recent years, their shows are still full of magic and musical moments that make your jaw drop and silently thank the music gods that Phish is still touring.  They will wrap up the tour in mid-August – we have yet to know if there will be a Halloween festival this year, or even a fall tour at all, but whatever the band decides to do, the faithful will follow.  And with good reason.

These two Phish shows get 4.5 out of 5 stars!